Its recoverable main-stage booster is created to be reused at least 10 times with minimal refurbishment between flights, allowing more frequent launches at lower cost - a key to the SpaceX business model.
The rocket's onboard computers halted the countdown about one minute before the newly minted Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 was set to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on its maiden mission, to carry a communications satellite into orbit for Bangladesh.
But Musk has yet more tweaks up his sleeve: He's aiming to make the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket - including its nose cone and second stage - fully reusable, with a turnaround time of as little as 24 hours.
Falcon 9 Block 5 rolling onto launch pad as seen in Instagram post by Elon Musk.
"Successful deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to geostationary transfer orbit", SpaceX said on Twitter. Insane hard. We still need to demonstrate it.
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So far, the first-stage boosters have been recycled once, for a total of two flights apiece.
The rocket is created to require far less maintenance and refurbishment between flights, and is certified to carry humans to space later this year when SpaceX launches its Dragon crew capsule to the International Space Station. They will eventually be used to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. That was the final year of NASA's Space Shuttle program.
Enhanced rocket reusability also is a core tenet of Musk's broader objectives for normalizing space travel and ultimately sending humans to Mars. While the base price for a launch that uses a brand-new Falcon 9 is $60 million, the equivalent price for a previously flown Falcon 9 is $50 million, he said.
The whole point of reusability - multiple flights with swift turnarounds, aeroplane-style - is to shave launch costs. The company will also have to cover the not-inconsequential development costs for the BFR and for SpaceX's Starlink broadband satellite constellation. The satellite is expected to expand communication capabilities across Bangladesh and in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia.